We miss ya, 'boy...So, just how hated is Brian Tobin in his native province? Very much so, judging from the results of a contest put on by St. John's CBC Radio One which asked listeners last month to come up with possible titles for Captain Canada's upcoming memoirs. Causing the radio's switchboard to light up like the First of July, up to 160 irate Newfs called in to give their two-cents. All painted the former industry minister as a self-centred, egomaniac who never did much of anything good for his home province. "Not one of was complimentary," said one of the producers of The Morning Show, the program which aired the results on March 21. "It was amazing. We've never had a response like that. Not one of them wasn't some kind of backhanded... well, backhand." The big winner proved to be Sleazy Come, Sleazy Go, a sly reference to Tobin's decision to abandon his post as premier of Newfoundland half way through his second mandate so that he could pursue leadership aspirations in Ottawa. Honourable mention went to Shameless and Lipservice, which placed second and third respectively. Set to hit book stores next February, the biography will be published by Penguin Books Canada. And just in case the book doesn't jump off the shelves -- a very real possibility -- Tobin got a "healthy advance," according to editor Diane Turbite. --by Paco Francoli BIG E'S NO DUMMY, SAW WRITING ON THE WALL Levantian Rumours... Why did Ezra Levant have such a dramatic change of heart and give up his Calgary Southwest nomination to Stephen Harper? Was it purely pressure from the Alliance caucus and party officials? Get real. Given Mr. Levant's tenacity in obtaining the nomination and control of the riding association, his burning desire to have a seat in the Commons, and his in-your-face nature, this just doesn't wash. Sifting though the rumours doing the rounds, the explanation that makes the most sense is that polling by Mr. Levant, the Alliance and the Tories all indicated that the Big E would not win the riding, while Mr. Harper would be a shoo-in. The fact that the dominant Calgary Herald newspaper was on his case about his spending and aggressive promotion techniques might have been a factor. Young Ezra is no dummy. Better to play the graceful team player and live to fight another day than suffer the ignominy of losing the riding that was home to the founder of Reform and the creator of its reincarnation as the CA, Preston Manning. Among the more curious bits of spurious gossip to cross my screen was the suggestion that the kicking in of a door at the riding office of Calgary North MP, third-place leadership finisher and Ezra critic Diane Ablonczy was not some random bit of mindless violence, but the vengeful act of some Levant backers. According to this bit of gossip, the incident was captured on videotape, which now lies safely in the vaults at alliance HQ. I mention this tidbit not to comment on its veracity, but as evidence of how down and dirty the games were getting before the Big E stepped aside. By the way, does anyone know how much Mr. Levant really spent getting the nomination? The reports started out at $50,000 and by the time he stepped down the stories were quoting $200,000. And how will he be rewarded for walking away from a shot at a high-profile gig in the commons paying $130,000 a year, with major perks and a killer pension plan? I wouldn't bet the farm on his electability at a future date in another riding -- and it could be two or three years before the chance arises anyway. So what does that leave -- a job for the "Stockaholic" with the Alliance's new foreign affairs critic Stockwell Day? GEORGE OUT, BEATON TULK IN, ALL IN PM'S WORK DAY Tulk Talk... Prime Minister Jean Chrétien is not known for being generous to those who blab out of turn, but loose lips have not sunk Newfoundland's Deputy Premier Beaton Tulk's federal ship. Several months ago, Mr. Tulk began telling anyone who would listen in St. John's that Gander MP George Baker was going to be appointed to the Senate and that he would be getting Georgio's seat. Shortly after he began blabbing, Brian Tobin stunned everyone by quitting federal politics and his job as industry minister, thereby forcing Mr. Chrétien to conduct a major overhaul of cabinet. The gossip on The Rock at that time was that Mr. Tobin had told Mr. Tulk about Mr. Baker's pending transfer to the Red Chamber. The suggestion was that he received a little prime ministerial rebuke for doing so. Well, if the PM was displeased back then, he is not showing it now. Mr. Chrétien was reportedly delighted to welcome and sign the papers for Mr. Tulk as the Liberal Candidate in the May 13 byelection in Gander-Grand Falls. CTV'S OLIVER FORCED TO DIG INTO GOOFY MARTIN STORY Apparently you can fool a lot of the people all of the time... For several years, Pierre Bourque had been pulling a "resign" gag on his website for April Fool's Day. In recent years, it has always involved the resignation of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, and each year some editor somewhere takes it seriously enough to order a protesting Hill reporter to check it out. This year, Mr. Bourque outdid himself, simply by changing the subject of the gag from Prime Minister Chrétien to the man most keen to replace him, Paul Martin. The gag hit the site after midnight last Sunday night, and sure enough, the calls began. Leading the charge was CTV Ottawa bureau chief Craig Oliver, who was forced to wake up everyone he knew in Martin's camp to ask them if the story was true. I hear Mr. Oliver was awoken in the witching hour himself by everyone's favourite CTV news boss Kirk LaPointe, who insisted the story was worth checking out immediately. Oh well, at least he wasn't calling to fire anyone. The funny thing was that although Craig and the Martin people he contacted all believed it had to be a hoax, none could be absolutely certain -- but then again, they were operating on second-hand information and had not read the item, which gave the game away by claiming Mr. Martin planned to retire to raise cattle and ducks and show them at country fairs. Perhaps everyone was a little unsure of their instincts after the recent surprises in the Canadian Alliance -- Stephen Harper's convincing first ballot victory, Ezra Levant's sudden change of heart about refusing to give up his nomination in Calgary Southwest and the possibility that Harper and Tory Leader Joe Clark may actually consider joint nominations in the next election. And to be fair to Scoop LaPointe, supposedly smart people in the investment and money market worlds were sufficiently spooked by the gag to drive the Loonie down by a quarter cent. This reaction might have been mildly flattering to the Finance Minister's ego perhaps, but not exactly the sort of thing to inspire confidence that these financial experts actually have a clue what they are doing.